Saturday, October 31, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

INSIDE THE ABUSIVE MIND

"..the narcissistic abuser often picks energetic, loving, successful, passionate people. They seek out in others, what they lack, then begin the process of appropriating what the other has for themselves. In this sense they are true emotional vampires, robbing their victims of their personality, they energy, their passion for life - metaphorically killing them."

Their preferred method though, in the end, is to have the victim self-destruct, allowing them to walk away in triumph seeking sympathy for what they've had to endure with this 'crazy person'." - Sandra Brown, MA

(edited slightly for cyberpaths)

Abusive people (such as cyberpaths) typically think they are unique, so different from other people that they don't have to follow the same rules as everyone else. But actually, abusers have a lot in common with one another and share a great many thinking patterns and behaviors.

These may include:

Success Fantasies: The abuser believes in fantasies of being rich, famous, or extremely successful in other terms if only other people weren't holding him back. They're blocking the way makes the abuser feel justified in getting back at them, including through abuse. The abuser also puts other people down as a way of building himself up. Beckstead - prime example!

Blaming: The abuser shifts responsibility for actions to others, which allows the abuser to be angry at the other person for "causing" the behavior. Cyberpath example: "If you wouldn't "tempt me" I wouldn't beg you for intimate photos, cybersex or send you dirty pictures.."

Redefining: The abuser redefines the situation so that the problem lies not with the abuser but with others or the outside world. Cyberpath example: My wife/ partner doesn't love me; won't have sex with me; makes me feel bad - anyway... so I need to turn to you (and net porn) for relief. My boss stresses me out... so I take it out on you (victim) at the computer.

Making Fools of Others: The abuser combines tactics to manipulate others. The tactics include lying, upsetting the other person just to watch her reactions, and provoking a fight between or among others. The Cyberpath may try to charm the person he wants to manipulate, pretending a great deal of interest in and concern for that person in order to get on her good side. (love bombing, coercion, manipulation, brainwashing, anchoring lies)

Assuming: Abusive people often assume they know what others are thinking or feeling. Their assumption allows them to justify their behavior because they "know" what the other person would think or do in a given situation. Cyberpath example: "I knew you'd be mad because I didn't come online when you asked, so I figured I might as well stay away for a week..."

Emotional Dependence: Abusive individuals are usually very emotionally dependent on their partner. The result of their inner rage at being dependent means that the abuser acts in controlling ways to exert power and to deny their own weakness. (If they are having net affairs they may take out their rage on the new victim rather than the spouse - knowing the person they are cheating with has no one to tell without revealing the net affair!)

One major symptom is strong jealousy and possessive actions, normally sexual in nature. Another sign of dependence is the effect of what happens when the abused person leaves the relationship because of the abuse. It is common for the abuser to make extraordinary attempts to persuade them to return.

Lying: The abuser manipulates by lying to control information. The abuser may also use lying to keep other people, including the victim, off-balance psychologically. For example: The abuser tries to appear truthful when actually lying, or tries to look deceitful when actually telling the truth.

Rigid Application of Traditional Sex Attitudes: Abusive persons tend to have more inflexible beliefs about roles and functions of the opposite sex. The man may expect the woman to over fulfill all the household and mothering chores and to be very submissive and subservient.

Drama and Excitement: Abusive people have trouble experiencing close, satisfying relationships. They substitute drama and excitement (sex? playing games with people's heads & emotions?) for closeness. Abusive people find it exciting to watch others become angry, get into fights, or fall into a general uproar. Often, they'll use a combination of tactics to set up an exciting situation.


Closed Channel: The abusive person does not tell much about personal details and real feelings. The abuser is not open to new information about himself either, such as someone else's thoughts about them personally. The abuser is secretive, close-minded and self-righteous. Abusers believe they are right in all situations.

Ownership: The abuser typically is very possessive. Moreover, the abuser believes that anything that is wanted should be owned, and that the abuser can do as wanted with anything that is his. The same attitude applies to people. It justifies controlling others' behavior, physically hurting them, smearing their character, stalking, hacking their computers and taking things that belong to them.

Poor Anger Management: Individuals who have experienced a violent and abusive childhood are more likely to grow up and become spouse abusers or abused people themselves. A person who sees violence, even verbal or emotional violence, as the primary method for settling differences as a child is not going to have very many alternate ways available to channel anger. A person without an everyday outlet for anger risks exploding toward the people closest to them.

Minimizing: The abuser ducks responsibility for abusive actions by trying to make them seem less important than they are. Cyberpath example: "Everything I said online wasn't that bad", or "You took what I said the wrong way."

Fragmentation: The abuser usually keeps the abusive behavior separate from the rest of his life. The separation is physical; for example, the abuser will seduce and malign people online but not in real life.

The separation is also psychological; for example, it is not uncommon for an abuser to attend church Sunday morning and abuse his victim Sunday night. The abuser sees no inconsistency in this behavior and feels justified in it.

Above the Rules: As mentioned earlier, abusers generally believe they are better than other people and so don't have to follow the rules that ordinary people do. That attitude is typical of convicted criminals, too. Each inmate usually believes that while all the other inmates are criminals, he is not. An abuser shows above-the-rules thinking in saying, "I don't need counseling. Nobody knows as much about my life as I do. I can handle my life without help from anybody." (they usually only go to counseling when caught, as a way to say - "I straightened my life out - its ok now", then go RIGHT BACK TO COVERTLY ABUSING)

Self-glorification: The abuser usually thinks of himself as strong, superior, independent, self-sufficient, and very virile. When anyone says or does anything that doesn't fit this glorified self-image, the abuser takes it as an insult.

Inability to express feelings with words: This type of person is rarely capable of true intimacy and may feel very threatened by the prospect of being open and vulnerable. Particularly when frustrated, the abusive person expects instant gratification from their partner who is expected to "read" their mind and "know" what their mate wants. When the mate doesn't know what is expected the partner may interpret this as meaning they do not really love them. Therefore with an abusive individual, rejection = violence (verbal, physical, emotional). (if they do genuinely express themselves its generally a sarcastic remark, a putdown or anger)

Vagueness: Thinking and speaking vaguely or selectively skewing facts lets the abuser avoid responsibility. Cyberpath Example: "I'm working, I can't chat right now." (Working on OTHER VICTIMS??)

ORIGINAL ARTICLE FROM THIS GREAT SITE: http://cyberpaths.blogspot.com/2007/03/inside-abusive-mind.html

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Snapped


Snapped: http://www.lisaescott.com/forum/2009/08/11/snapped

Posted Tue, 08/11/2009 - 02:21

In the past two weeks two associates have contacted me. One I have knows for about 2 years and the other I just recently met.

Old associate story:

Having not spoken with her for about a month I ran into OA (old associate) and she started telling me about how she had her children taken away because of the police being called to a DV (Domestic Violence) and had to spend 30 day in the cook county jail. OA been having problems with her husband who at one time left her and their five children a few years ago. After husband lost his job and all income came back and beg her for a second chance. Because OA husband is a drug addict I told her not to allow him back in until he went through a drug treatment program. OA didn’t listen to me so....

After she found out that once again he cheated on her and wanted to bring his new gf over to have sex with her in their apartment they got into a fight. By my OA account he attack her first by punching her in the back of her head. She then “snapped” and got a beer bottle and broke it and cut her husband around his nose. The husband then called the police and because of his cuts the police of course arrested her. He now has four of the children but gave the youngest back to her after she was release from the cook country jail. She is now facing a RO (restraining order of protection) and a DV arrest court dates...

But what I learned today is that OA is now dating another guy who shows a lot of red flags and I told her I believe she shouldn’t be sleeping with him at this time and to please be careful.

Think she will listen this time?

She is now asking me to write a deposition for her addressing the RO which is only a civil matter. I did advise her to get a lawyer concerning the DV. I am at this time not sure if I will help having done it before concerning other legal paperwork and having a hard time collecting my fee. I told her I would think about it...

New associate story:

Her husband left her in May 21 of this year. The NA (new associate) has been emotionally and psychologically abuse by her husband for many years. In the many years they were married the NA has told me they only have sex 12 times. Also, because of the way he treated her and emotionally broke her I believe she suffers from PTSD. The NA also agrees with this. The NA did threaten her husband one night when she “snapped” and told him she would throw hot boiling water on him and cut him with a knife if he wouldn’t stop yelling at her all the time. NA told me he would come home each night and verbally abuse her. These events happen in March of 2006. But after him leaving her the husband file a RO on her. I believe because the husband waited two-month and other issues about the case that she has a good case in her favor. I will help her with the deposition and try to help her get into some kind of therapy for the PTSD and other emotional stress she is experiencing.

I hope by sharing these two stories it will remind members to keep the NC policy. Never give your abuser a reason to turn the law against you for they will do it in a heartbeat. Never put yourself into a position where you too could "snapped". Not only will they take your heart but they may also take your freedom and smear your good name.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thank you Dr. Joseph M Carver, Ph. D


"The Loser"
Warning Signs You're Dating a Loser

Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D., Psychologist



Comment (September 27, 2003)

This article was published to the Internet several years ago and was originally written to help identify "Losers" in relationships. The e-mail feedback I have received on the article has been tremendous. It's clear the article is a way of identifying not only "losers" but controlling, abusive, and manipulating individuals. It's also obvious these warning signs are not only found in dating relationships - but in our spouse, our parents, our friends, and our relatives. There are more victims in the environment of the Loser than his or her partner.

I've been contacted for help by the friends and loved ones of people involved in relationships with Losers (controlling and/or abusive partners). The loved ones want to understand the situation and ask for recommendations and guidance. For this group I have recently published "Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser". A link to this article is found at the end of this page.

Obviously, this article has created the need for sequels. I hope to publish a guide to assist Losers who want to change their life and behavior. An article addressing sons and daughters who were parented by Losers is also being planned. If our parent or parents have the characteristics listed in this article, our ability to function as a healthy adult may be hindered due to the dysfunctional family/parent model. My goal is to follow this issue and provide help and guidance to all those involved with controlling and abusive individuals - from partners to extended victims.


Introduction

Very few relationships start on terms other than sweetness and politeness. In the beginning, "the honeymoon" of the relationship, it's difficult to determine what type of individual you are dating. Both you and the date are guarded, trying to obtain information about the other as much as possible without seeming like a police detective.

Romantic relationships can be wonderful with the right person. A relationship with the wrong individual however can lead to years of heartache, emotional/social damage, and even physical damage. A damaging adult partner can damage us, damage our loved ones, and even damage the way we feel about love and romance in the future. They can turn what is supposed to be a loving, supporting, and understanding relationship into the "fatal attraction" often described in movies. There are a variety of "bad choices" that may be encountered each week - most of which are easily to identify and avoid. We all know to avoid people that appear insane or abusive and not select them as a dating partner. However, some individuals are better at hiding their personality and behavior abnormalities. In an effort to provide some warning about these very damaging individuals, this paper will outline a type of individual commonly found in the dating scene, a male or female labeled "The Loser".

"The Loser" is a type of partner that creates much social, emotional and psychological damage in a relationship. "The Loser" has permanent personality characteristics that create this damage. These are characteristics that they accept simply as the way they are and not a problem or psychological difficulty. In one sense, they have always lived with this personality and behavior, often something they probably learned from their relatives/family. Psychologists usually treat the victims of "The Loser", women or men who arrive at the office severely depressed with their self-confidence and self-esteem totally destroyed.

The following list is an attempt to outline the characteristics of "The Loser" and provide a manner in which women and men can identify potentially damaging relationships before they are themselves severely damaged emotionally or even physically. If your partner possesses even one of these features, there is risk in the relationship. More than three of these indicators and you are involved with "The Loser" in a very high risk relationship that will eventually create damage to you. When a high number of these features are present - it's not a probably or possibility. You will be hurt and damaged by "The Loser" if you stay in the relationship.

1. Rough Treatment "The Loser" will hurt you on purpose. If he or she hits you, twists your arm, pulls your hair, kicks you, shoves you, or breaks your personal property EVEN ONCE, drop them. Male losers often begin with behaviors that move you physically or hit the wall. Female losers often slap, kick and even punch their male partners when upset.

2. Quick Attachment and Expression "The Loser" has very shallow emotions and connections with others. One of the things that might attract you to "The Loser" is how quickly he or she says "I Love You" or wants to marry or commit to you. Typically, in less than a few weeks of dating you'll hear that you're the love of their life, they want to be with you forever, and they want to marry you. You'll receive gifts, a variety of promises, and be showered with their attention and nice gestures. This is the "honeymoon phase" - where they catch you and convince you that they are the best thing that ever happened to you. Remember the business saying "If it's too good to be true it probably is (too good to be true)!" You may be so overwhelmed by this display of instant attraction, instant commitment, and instant planning for the future that you'll miss the major point - it doesn't make sense!! Normal, healthy individuals require a long process to develop a relationship because there is so much at stake. Healthy individuals will wait for a lot of information before offering a commitment - not three weeks. It's true that we can become infatuated with others quickly - but not make such unrealistic promises and have the future planned after three dates. The rapid warm-up is always a sign of shallow emotions which later cause "The Loser" to detach from you as quickly as they committed. "The Loser" typically wants to move in with you or marry you in less than four weeks or very early in the relationship.

3. Frightening Temper "The Loser" has a scary temper. If your boyfriend or girlfriend blows up and does dangerous things, like driving too fast because they're mad, breaking/throwing things, getting into fights, or threatening others - that temper will soon be turned in your direction. In the beginning of the relationship, you will be exposed to "witnessed violence" - fights with others, threats toward others, angry outbursts at others, etc. You will also hear of violence in their life. You will see and witness this temper - throwing things, yelling, cursing, driving fast, hitting the walls, and kicking things. That quickly serves to intimidate you and fear their potential for violence, although "The Loser" quickly assures you that they are angry at others or situations, not at you. At first, you will be assured that they will never direct the hostility and violence at you - but they are clearly letting you know that they have that ability and capability - and that it might come your way. Later, you fear challenging or confronting them - fearing that same temper and violence will be turned in your direction.

4. Killing Your Self-Confidence "The Loser" repeatedly puts you down. They constantly correct your slight mistakes, making you feel "on guard", unintelligent, and leaving you with the feeling that you are always doing something wrong. They tell you that you're too fat, too unattractive, or don't talk correctly or look well. This gradual chipping away at your confidence and self-esteem allows them to later treat you badly - as though you deserved it. In public, you will be "walking on eggshells" - always fearing you are doing or saying something that will later create a temper outburst or verbal argument.

5. Cutting Off Your Support In order to control someone completely, you must cut off their supportive friends - sometimes even their family. "The Loser" feels your friends and family might influence you or offer negative opinions about their behavior. "The Loser" begins by telling you these friends treat you badly, take advantage of you, and don't understand the special nature of the love you share with them. In some cases, if they can't get rid of your best same-sex friend, "The Loser" will claim he or she made a pass at them. If you talk to your friends or family, "The Loser" will punish you by asking multiple questions or making nasty accusations. Eventually, rather than face the verbal punishment, interrogation, and abuse, you'll develop the feeling that it's better not to talk to family and friends. You will withdraw from friends and family, prompting them to become upset with you. "The Loser" then tells you they are treating you badly again and you'd be better to keep your distance from them. Once you are isolated and alone, without support, their control over you can increase.

6. The Mean and Sweet Cycle "The Loser" cycles from mean to sweet and back again. The cycle starts when they are intentionally hurtful and mean. You may be verbally abused, cursed, and threatened over something minor. Suddenly, the next day they become sweet, doing all those little things they did when you started dating. You hang on, hoping each mean-then-sweet cycle is the last one. The other purpose of the mean cycle is to allow "The Loser" to say very nasty things about you or those you care about, again chipping away at your self-esteem and self-confidence. "The Loser" often apologizes but the damage to your self-esteem is already done - exactly as planned.

7. It's Always Your Fault "The Loser" blames you for their anger as well as any other behavior that is incorrect. When they cheat on you, yell at you, treat you badly, damage your property, or embarrass you publicly - it's somehow your fault. If you are ten minutes late for a date, it's your fault that the male loser drives 80 miles per hour, runs people off the road, and pouts the rest of the evening. "The Loser" tells you their anger and misbehavior would not have happened if you had not made some simple mistake, had loved them more, or had not questioned their behavior. "The Loser" never, repeat "never", takes personal responsibility for their behavior - it's always the fault of someone else. If they drive like a maniac and try to pull an innocent driver off the highway to assault them - it's actually the fault of the other driver (not his) as they didn't use a turn signal when they changed lanes. They give you the impression that you had it (anger, yelling, assault) coming and deserved the anger, violence, pouting, or physical display of aggression.

8. Breakup Panic "The Loser" panics at the idea of breaking up - unless it's totally their idea - then you're dropped like a hot rock. Abusive boyfriends often break down and cry, they plead, they promise to change, and they offer marriage/trips/gifts when you threaten ending the relationship. Both male and female losers may threaten suicide, threaten to return to old sweethearts (who feel lucky they're gone!), or threaten to quit their job and leave the area - as though you will be responsible for those decisions. "The Loser" offers a multitude of "deals" and halfway measures, like "Let's just date one more month!"

They shower you with phone calls, often every five minutes, hoping that you will make an agreement or see them just to stop the telephone harassment. Some call your relatives, your friends, their friends, and anyone else they can think of - telling those people to call you and tell you how much they love you. Creative losers often create so much social pressure that the victim agrees to go back to the bad relationship rather than continue under the social pressure. Imagine trying to end a relationship and receiving tearful calls from all his or her relatives (they secretly hope you'll keep them so they don't have to), seeing a plea for your return in the newspaper or even on a local billboard, receiving flowers at work each day, or having them arrive at your place of work and offer you a wedding ring (male loser technique) or inform you that they might be pregnant (female loser technique) in front of your coworkers! Their reaction is emotionally intense, a behavior they use to keep you an emotional prisoner. If you go back to them, you actually fear a worse reaction if you threaten to leave again (making you a prisoner) and they later frequently recall the incident to you as further evidence of what a bad person you are. Remember, if your prize dog jumps the fence and escapes, if you get him back you build a higher fence. Once back in the grasp of "The Loser" - escape will be three times as difficult the next time.

9. No Outside Interests "The Loser" will encourage you to drop your hobbies, interests, and involvement with others. If you have an individual activity, they demand that they accompany you, making you feel miserable during the entire activity. The idea behind this is to prevent you from having fun or interests other than those which they totally control.

10. Paranoid Control "The Loser" will check up on you and keep track of where you are and who you are with. If you speak to a member of the opposite sex, you receive twenty questions about how you know them. If you don't answer their phone call, you are ask where you were, what were you doing, who you were talking to, etc. They will notice the type of mud on your car, question why you shop certain places, and question why you called a friend, why the friend called you, and so forth. Some losers follow you to the grocery, then later ask if you've been there in an attempt to catch you in a lie. In severe cases, they go through your mail, look through your purse/wallet, hit your redial on the phone when they arrive, or search through your garbage for evidence. High-tech losers may encourage you to make "private" calls to friends from their residence, calls that are being secretly taped for later reference. They may begin to tell you what to wear, what to listen to in music, and how to behave in public. Eventually, they tell you that you can not talk to certain friends or acquaintances, go certain places, or talk about certain issues in public. If no date is present on Friday night - "The Loser" will inform you that they will call you that night - sometime. That effectively keeps you home, awaiting the call, fearing the verbal abuse and questions you might receive if you weren't home for the call. This technique allows "The Loser" to do what they want socially, at the same time controlling your behavior from a distance or a local bar.

11. Public Embarrassment In an effort to keep you under control while in public, "The Loser" will lash out at you, call you names, or say cruel or embarrassing things about you in private or in front of people. When in public, you quickly learn that any opinion you express may cause them to verbally attack you, either at the time or later. If you stay with "The Loser" too long, you'll soon find yourself politely smiling, saying nothing, and holding on to their arm when in public. You'll also find yourself walking with your head down, fearful of seeing a friend who might speak to you and create an angry reaction in "The Loser".

12. It's Never Enough "The Loser" convinces you that you are never quite good enough. You don't say "I love you" enough, you don't stand close enough, you don't do enough for them after all their sacrifices, and your behavior always falls short of what is expected. This is another method of destroying your self-esteem and confidence. After months of this technique, they begin telling you how lucky you are to have them - somebody who tolerates someone so inadequate and worthless as you.

13. Entitlement "The Loser" has a tremendous sense of entitlement, the attitude that they have a perfectly logical right to do whatever they desire. If cut off in traffic, "The Loser" feels they have the right to run the other driver off the road, assault them, and endanger the lives of other drivers with their temper tantrum. Keep in mind, this same sense of entitlement will be used against you. If you disobey their desires or demands, or violate one of their rules, they feel they are entitled to punish you in any manner they see fit.

14. Your Friends and Family Dislike Him/Her As the relationship continues, your friends and family will see what "The Loser" is doing to you. They will notice a change in your personality or your withdrawal. They will protest. "The Loser" will tell you they are jealous of the "special love" you have and then use their protest and opinion as further evidence that they are against you - not him. The mention of your family members or friends will spark an angry response from them - eventually placing you in the situation where you stop talking about those you care about, even your own family members. "The Loser" will be jealous and threatened by anyone you are close to - even your children. In some cases, your parents or brothers/sisters will not be allowed to visit your home.

15. Bad Stories People often let you know about their personality by the stories they tell about themselves. It's the old story about giving a person enough rope and they'll hang themselves. The stories a person tells informs us of how they see themselves, what they think is interesting, and what they think will impress you. A humorous individual will tell funny stories on himself. "The Loser" tells stories of violence, aggression, being insensitive to others, rejecting others, etc. They may tell you about past relationships and in every case, they assure you that they were treated horribly despite how wonderful they were to that person. They brag about their temper and outbursts because they don't see anything wrong with violence and actually take pride in the "I don't take nothing from nobody" attitude. People define themselves with their stories, much like a culture is described by it's folklore and legends. Listen to these stories - they tell you how you will eventually be treated and what's coming your way.

16. The Waitress Test It's been said that when dating, the way an individual treats a waitress or other neutral person of the opposite sex is the way they will treat you in six months. During the "honeymoon phase" of a relationship, you will be treated like a king or queen. However, during that time "The Loser" has not forgotten how he or she basically feels about the opposite sex. Waitresses, clerks, or other neutral individuals will be treated badly. If they are cheap - you'll never receive anything once the honeymoon is over. If they whine, complain, criticize, and torment - that's how they'll treat you in six months. A mentally healthy person is consistent, they treat almost all people the same way all the time. If you find yourself dating a man who treats you like a queen and other females like dirt - hit the road.

17. The Reputation As mentioned, mentally healthy individuals are consistent in their personality and their behavior. "The Loser" may have two distinct reputations - a group of individuals who will give you glowing reports and a group that will warn you that they are serious trouble. If you ask ten people about a new restaurant - five say it's wonderful and five say it's a hog pit - you clearly understand that there's some risk involved in eating there. "The Loser" may actually brag about their reputation as a "butt kicker", "womanizer", "hot temper" or "being crazy". They may tell you stories where other's have called them crazy or suggested that they receive professional help. Pay attention to the reputation. Reputation is the public perception of an individual's behavior. If the reputation has two sides, good and bad, your risk is high. You will be dealing with the bad side once the honeymoon is over in the relationship. With severe behavior problems, "The Loser" will be found to have almost no friends, just acquaintances. Emotionally healthy and moral individuals will not tolerate friendships with losers that treat others so badly. If you find yourself disliking the friends of "The Loser", it's because they operate the same way he or she does and you can see it in them.

18. Walking on Eggshells As a relationship with "The Loser" continues, you will gradually be exposed to verbal intimidation, temper tantrums, lengthy interrogations about trivial matters, violence/threats directed at others but witnessed by you, paranoid preoccupation with your activities, and a variety of put-downs on your character. You will quickly find yourself "walking on eggshells" in their presence - fearful to bring up topics, fearful to mention that you spoke to or saw a friend, and fearful to question or criticize the behavior of "The Loser". Instead of experiencing the warmth and comfort of love, you will be constantly on edge, tense when talking to others (they might say something that you'll have to explain later), and fearful that you'll see someone you'll have to greet in public. Dates and times together will be more comfortable and less threatening when totally alone - exactly what "The Loser" wants - no interference with their control or dominance.

19. Discounted Feelings/Opinions "The Loser" is so self-involved and self-worshiping that the feelings and opinions of others are considered worthless. As the relationship continues and you begin to question what you are feeling or seeing in their behavior, you will be told that your feelings and opinions don't make sense, they're silly, and that you are emotionally disturbed to even think of such things. "The Loser" has no interest in your opinion or your feelings - but they will be disturbed and upset that you dare question their behavior. "The Loser" is extremely hostile toward criticism and often reacts with anger or rage when their behavior is questioned.

20. They Make You "Crazy" "The Loser" operates in such a damaging way that you find yourself doing "crazy" things in self-defense. If "The Loser" is scheduled to arrive at 8:00 pm - you call Time & Temperature to cover the redial, check your garbage for anything that might get you in trouble, and call your family and friends to tell them not to call you that night. You warn family/friends not to bring up certain topics, avoid locations in the community where you might see co-workers or friends, and not speak to others for fear of the 20 questions. You become paranoid as well - being careful what you wear and say. Nonviolent males find themselves in physical fights with female losers. Nonviolent females find themselves yelling and screaming when they can no longer take the verbal abuse or intimidation. In emotional and physical self-defense, we behave differently and oddly. While we think we are "going crazy" - it's important to remember that there is no such thing as "normal behavior" in a combat situation. Rest assured that your behavior will return to normal if you detach from "The Loser" before permanent psychological damage is done.

Dangerous Versions of "The Loser"

There are more severe if not dangerous versions of "The Loser" that have been identified over the years. If you are involved in a relationship with one of these versions, you may require professional and legal assistance to save yourself.

Physical Abuser Physical abusers begin the relationship with physical moving - shoving, pushing, forcing, etc. That quickly moves into verbal threats with physical gestures - the finger in the face, clinched fist in the face, and voiced physical threats such as "You make me want to break your face!" Eventually, these combine to form actual physical abuse - hitting, slapping, and kicking. "The Loser" is always sorry the next day and begins the mean-then-sweet cycle all over again. Getting away from physical abusers often requires the assistance of family, law enforcement agencies, or local abuse agencies. Female losers often physically attack their partner, break car windows, or behave with such violence that the male partner is forced to physically protect himself from the assault. If the female loser is bruised in the process of self-protection, as when physically restraining her from hitting, those bruises are then "displayed" to others as evidence of what a bad person the partner is and how abusive they have been in the relationship.

Psychotic Losers There are losers that are severely ill in a psychiatric sense - the movie description of the "Fatal Attraction". Some may tell you wild stories and try to convince you that they are connected to The Mob or a government agency (CIA, FBI, etc.). They may fake terminal illness, pregnancy, or disease. They intimidate and frighten you with comments such as "I can have anyone killed..." or "No one leaves a relationship with me...". If you try to end the relationship, they react violently and give you the impression that you, your friends, or your family are in serious danger. People often then remain in the abusive and controlling relationship due to fear of harm to their family or their reputation. While such fears are unrealistic as "The Loser" is only interested in controlling you, those fears feel very real when combined with the other characteristics of "The Loser".

Psychotic or psychiatrically ill losers may also stalk, follow, or harass you. They may threaten physical violence, show weapons, or threaten to kill you or themselves if you leave them. If you try to date others, they may follow you or threaten your new date. Your new date may be subjected to phone harassment, vandalism, threats, and even physical assaults. If you are recently divorced, separated, or recently ended another relationship, "The Loser" may be intimidating toward your ex-partner, fearing you might return if the other partner is not "scared off". Just remember - everything "The Loser" has ever done to anyone will be coming your way. "The Loser" may send you pictures of you, your children, or your family - pictures they have taken secretly - hinting that they can "reach out and touch" those you love. You may need help and legal action to separate from these individuals.

Guidelines for Detachment

Separating from "The Loser" often involves three stages: The Detachment, Ending the Relationship, and the Follow-up Protection.

The Detachment

During this part of separating from "The Loser", you recognize what you must do and create an Exit Plan. Many individuals fail in attempts to detach from "The Loser" because they leave suddenly and impulsively, without proper planning, and without resources. In many cases, "The Loser" has isolated their partner from others, has control of finances, or has control of major exit needs such as an automobile. During the detachment phase you should...

- Observe the way you are treated. Watch for the methods listed above and see how "The Loser" works.

- Gradually become more boring, talk less, share less feelings and opinions. The goal is almost to bore "The Loser" to lessen the emotional attachment, at the same time not creating a situation which would make you a target.

- Quietly contact your family and supportive others. Determine what help they might be - a place to stay, protection, financial help, etc.

- If you fear violence or abuse, check local legal or law enforcement options such as a restraining order.

- If "The Loser" is destructive, slowly move your valuables from the home if together, or try to recover valuables if in their possession. In many cases, you may lose some personal items during your detachment - a small price to pay to get rid of "The Loser".

- Stop arguing, debating or discussing issues. Stop defending and explaining yourself - responding with comments such as "I've been so confused lately" or "I'm under so much stress I don't know why I do anything anymore".

- Begin dropping hints that you are depressed, burned out, or confused about life in general. Remember - "The Loser" never takes responsibility for what happens in any relationship. "The Loser" will feel better about leaving the relationship if they can blame it on you. Many individuals are forced to "play confused" and dull, allowing "The Loser" to tell others "My girlfriend (or boyfriend) about half nuts!" They may tell others you're crazy or confused but you'll be safer. Allow them to think anything they want about you as long as you're in the process of detaching.

- Don't start another relationship. That will only complicate your situation and increase the anger. Your best bet is to "lay low" for several months. Remember, "The Loser" will quickly locate another victim and become instantly attached as long as the focus on you is allowed to die down.

- As "The Loser" starts to question changes in your behavior, admit confusion, depression, emotionally numbness, and a host of other boring reactions. This sets the foundation for the ending of the relationship.

Ending the Relationship

Remembering that "The Loser" doesn't accept responsibility, responds with anger to criticism, and is prone to panic detachment reactions - ending the relationship continues the same theme as the detachment.

- Explain that you are emotionally numb, confused, and burned out. You can't feel anything for anybody and you want to end the relationship almost for his or her benefit. Remind them that they've probably noticed something is wrong and that you need time to sort out your feelings and fix whatever is wrong with you. As disgusting as it may seem, you may have to use a theme of "I'm not right for anyone at this point in my life." If "The Loser" can blame the end on you, as they would if they ended the relationship anyway, they will depart faster.

- If "The Loser" panics, you'll receive a shower of phone calls, letters, notes on your car, etc. React to each in the same manner - a boring thanks. If you overreact or give in, you've lost control again.

- Focus on your need for time away from the situation. Don't agree to the many negotiations that will be offered - dating less frequently, dating only once a week, taking a break for only a week, going to counseling together, etc. As long as "The Loser" has contact with you they feel there is a chance to manipulate you.

- "The Loser" will focus on making you feel guilty. In each phone contact you'll hear how much you are loved, how much was done for you, and how much they have sacrificed for you. At the same time, you'll hear about what a bum you are for leading them on, not giving them an opportunity to fix things, and embarrassing them by ending the relationship.

- Don't try to make them understand how you feel - it won't happen. "The Loser" only is concerned with how they feel - your feelings are irrelevant. You will be wasting your time trying to make them understand and they will see the discussions as an opportunity to make you feel more guilty and manipulate you.

- Don't fall for sudden changes in behavior or promises of marriage, trips, gifts, etc. By this time you have already seen how "The Loser" is normally and naturally. While anyone can change for a short period of time, they always return to their normal behavior once the crisis is over.

- Seek professional counseling for yourself or the support of others during this time. You will need encouragement and guidance. Keep in mind, if "The Loser" finds out you are seeking help they will criticize the counseling, the therapist, or the effort.

- Don't use terms like "someday", "maybe", or "in the future". When "The Loser" hears such possibilities, they think you are weakening and will increase their pressure.

- Imagine a dead slot machine. If we are in Las Vegas at a slot machine and pull the handle ten times and nothing happens - we move on to another machine. However, if on the tenth time the slot machine pays us even a little, we keep pulling the handle - thinking the jackpot is on the way. If we are very stern and stable about the decision to end the relationship over many days, then suddenly offer a possibility or hope for reconciliation - we've given a little pay and the pressure will continue. Never change your position - always say the same thing. "The Loser" will stop playing a machine that doesn't pay off and quickly move to another.

Follow-up Protection

"The Loser" never sees their responsibility or involvement in the difficulties in the relationship. From a psychological standpoint, "The Loser" has lived and behaved in this manner most of their life, clearly all of their adult life. As they really don't see themselves at fault or as an individual with a problem, "The Loser" tends to think that the girlfriend or boyfriend is simply going through a phase - their partner (victim) might be temporarily mixed up or confused, they might be listening to the wrong people, or they might be angry about something and will get over it soon. "The Loser" rarely detaches completely and will often try to continue contact with the partner even after the relationship is terminated. During the Follow-up Protection period, some guidelines are:

- Never change your original position. It's over permanently! Don't talk about possible changes in your position in the future. You might think that will calm "The Loser" but it only tells them that the possibilities still exist and only a little more pressure is needed to return to the relationship.

- Don't agree to meetings or reunions to discuss old times. For "The Loser", discussing old times is actually a way to upset you, put you off guard, and use the guilt to hook you again.

- Don't offer details about your new life or relationships. Assure him that both his life and your life are now private and that you hope they are happy.

- If you start feeling guilty during a phone call, get off the phone fast. More people return to bad marriages and relationships due to guilt than anything else. If you listen to those phone calls, as though taping them, you'll find "The Loser" spends most of the call trying to make you feel guilty.

- In any contact with the ex "Loser", provide only a status report, much like you'd provide to your Aunt Gladys. For example: "I'm still working hard and not getting any better at tennis. That's about it."

- When "The Loser" tells you how difficult the breakup has been, share with him some general thoughts about breaking-up and how finding the right person is difficult. While "The Loser" wants to focus on your relationship, talk in terms of Ann Landers - "Well, breaking up is hard on anyone. Dating is tough in these times. I'm sure we'll eventually find someone that's right for both of us." Remember - nothing personal!

- Keep all contact short and sweet - the shorter the better. As far as "The Loser" is concerned, you're always on your way somewhere, there's something in the microwave, or your mother is walking up the steps to your home. Wish "The Loser" well but always with the same tone of voice that you might offer to someone you have just talked to at the grocery store. For phone conversations, electronic companies make a handy gadget that produces about twenty sounds - a doorbell, an oven or microwave alarm, a knock on the door, etc. That little device is handy to use on the phone - the microwave dinner just came out or someone is at the door. Do whatever you have to do to keep the conversation short - and not personal.

Summary

In all of our relationships throughout life, we will meet a variety of individuals with many different personalities. Some are a joy to have in our life and some provide us with life-long love and security. Others we meet pose some risk to us and our future due to their personality and attitudes. Both in medicine and mental health - the key to health is the early identification and treatment of problems - before they reach the point that they are beyond treatment. In years of psychotherapy and counseling practice, treating the victims of "The Loser", patterns of attitude and behavior emerge in "The Loser" that can now be listed and identified in the hopes of providing early identification and warning. When those signs and indicators surface and the pattern is identified, we must move quickly to get away from the situation. Continuing a relationship with "The Loser" will result in a relationship that involves intimidation, fear, angry outbursts, paranoid control, and a total loss of your self-esteem and self-confidence.

If you have been involved in a long-term relationship with "The Loser", after you successfully escape you may notice that you have sustained some psychological damage that will require professional repair. In many cases, the stress has been so severe that you may have a stress-produced depression. You may have severe damage to your self-confidence/self-esteem or to your feelings about the opposite sex or relationships. Psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and counselors are available in your community to assist and guide you as you recover from your damaging relationship with "The Loser".

Joseph M Carver, Ph.D., Psychologist

Credit: This handout was written by Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D., a Clinical Psychologist. It is provided as a public service and can be reproduced as needed. Dr. Carver is in private practice in Southern Ohio.

This was the first article I read concerning those that suffer from a personality disorder. Dr. Carver saved my sanity and allow me to search further into this understanding and acceptances of those who are emotional dead and really are losers and abusers. So thank you Dr. Carver for I will always be indebted to you! Hope to see more of your writings to help the victim to heal and began a new life but this time without their parasitic loser sucking the life out of them.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D., Psychologist





Articles

These articles were written as client handouts. You may click on each article title for the full article.

Joseph M Carver, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist

Personality Disorders:
The Controllers, Abusers, Manipulators, and Users in Relationships
By
Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D., Psychologist


Who are these people? In romantic relationships they are controlling, abusive, manipulative partners who can ruin not only the relationship, but our self-esteem, finances, and reputation. As a parent, they can put the “D” in Dysfunctional Family and be the parent that abuses, neglects, ignores, or psychologically damages their children. As a friend they may be irresponsible, selfish, unreliable, dishonest, and often create significant problems in our life. As a neighbor, they spread rumors, create disharmony in the neighborhood, and steal our lawnmower. As a family member, they maintain themselves as the center of attention and keep the family in an uproar or they may be the 45 year/old brother who has never worked and remains dependent on the family for his support. They may be the brother or sister who verbally bullies and intimidates others with their temper tantrums. As a coworker they are manipulative, unethical, dishonest, and willing to damage co-workers to achieve their employment goals. On the street they are the criminals, con-artists, and people-users who purposefully damage others then quickly move on to avoid detection.

In over three decades of experience of dealing with victims, it’s clear that the majority of emotional victims I see in clinical practice are actually victims of an individual with a “Personality Disorder”. The “Personality Disorder” has been around for many years. For several centuries, professionals working with all types of people recognized that some individuals clearly thought and acted differently – without “normal” feelings, attitudes, behaviors, and interactions. In 1835 Dr. Pritchard suggested the term “moral insanity” to reflect the fact that these individuals were not insane by the standards of the day, yet had significant differences in their behavior, attitudes, ethics, morality, emotional expressions, and reactions to situations. Despite their significant differences when compared to others in their culture, the individual exhibited little emotional or social distress.

Personality Disorders are individuals who have a long history of personality, behavior, emotional, and relationship difficulties. This group is said to have a “personality disorder” – an enduring pattern of inner experience (mood, attitude, beliefs, values, etc.) and behavior (aggressiveness, instability, etc.) that is significantly different than those in their family or culture. These dysfunctional patterns are inflexible and intrusive into almost every aspect of the individual’s life. These patterns create significant problems in personal and emotional functioning and are often so severe that they lead to distress or impairment in all areas of their life. (Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition)

Personality Disorders are divided into three groups of “clusters”.

1) Cluster A personality disorders are individuals who have odd, eccentric behaviors. Paranoid, Schizoid, and Schizotypal Personalities fall into this cluster.

2) Cluster B are personalities that are highly dramatic, both emotionally and behaviorally. Antisocial, Borderline, Narcissistic, and Histrionic Personality are in this group.

3) Cluster C are personalities characterized by being anxious and fearful. Avoidant, Dependent, and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality fall into this cluster.

The Relationship Destroyers – Cluster B

In considering individuals who create the most damage to social and personal relationships, the abusers, manipulators, “players”, controllers, and losers are found in Cluster B. For this reason, this article will focus on the behaviors associated with Cluster B personality disorders.

In the general population, the largest number of personality disorders fall in the Cluster B group. The four personality disorders in Cluster B are:

1) Antisocial Personality - a pervasive pattern of disregard for the rights of others and rules of society. The Antisocial Personality ranges from individuals who are chronically irresponsible, unsupportive, con-artists to those who have total disregard for the rights of others and commit criminal acts with no remorse, including those involving the death of victims. In clinical practice, the Antisocial Personality has near-total selfishness and typically has a pattern of legal problems, lying and deception, physical assault and intimidation, no regard for the safety of others, unwillingness for meet normal standards for work/support/parenting, and no remorse.

2) Borderline Personality - a pervasive pattern of intense yet unstable relationships, mood, and self-perception. Impulse control is severely impaired. Common characteristics include panic fears of abandonment, unstable social relationships, unstable self-image, impulsive/self-damaging acts such as promiscuity/substance abuse/alcohol use, recurrent suicide thoughts/attempts, self-injury and self-mutilation, chronic feelings of emptiness, inappropriate yet intense anger, and fleeting paranoia.

3) Histrionic Personality - a pervasive pattern of excessive emotional display and attention-seeking. Individuals with this personality are excessively dramatic and are often viewed by the public as the “Queen of drama” type of individual. They are often sexually seductive and highly manipulative in relationships.

4) Narcissistic Personality - a pervasive preoccupation with admiration, entitlement, and egotism. Individuals with this personality exaggerate their accomplishments/talents, have a sense of entitlement, lack empathy or concern for others, are preoccupied with envy and jealousy, and have an arrogant attitude. Their sense of entitlement and inflated self-esteem are unrelated to real talent or accomplishments. They feel entitled to special attention, privileges, and consideration in social settings. This sense of entitlement also produces a feeling that they are entitled to punish those who do not provide their required respect, admiration, or attention.

When encountering the victims of emotional and physical abuse, the Personality Disorder individual is already present in their lives as a mother, father, sibling, spouse, partner, or relative. The majority of clients with difficulties related to their childhood find a Personality Disorder as a parent. For many, they have found themselves in a romantic relationship or marriage with a Personality Disorder. Others discover they are working with a Personality Disorder as a co-worker, supervisor, or supervisee. A smaller group finds they are victims of the severe behavior of a Personality Disorder and have been assaulted, robbed, traumatized, or manipulated.


Personality Disorders are present in 10 to 15 percent of the adult population with Cluster B accounting for approximately 9 percent based on research. At such a high percentage, it’s important that we learn to identify these individuals in our lives. A failure to identify them may create significant risk. While most of our contact with a Personality Disorder may be brief, the more involved they are in our lives, the higher the risk of emotional, social, and other damage. For this reason, it’s helpful to identify some of the characteristics of a personality disorder.

Mental health professionals have identified ten personality disorders, each with their own pattern of behaviors, emotionality, and symptoms. However, in my observation, all Cluster B Personality Disorders have core personality features that serve as the foundation for their specific personality disorder. Some of those core personality features are:

1) Self-Centered: We often hear the phrase “It’s All About Me”. When making decisions, a healthy person weighs the needs and concerns of others as well as their own. A Personality Disorder weighs only their needs and concerns. A Personality Disorder may use money to feed their family for their own purpose. A brother with a Personality Disorder may intimidate an elderly parent for money or manipulate a legal situation to eliminate siblings from an inheritance. In most situations, if we are contacted by a Personality Disorder, the contact is for THEIR purpose, not ours.

2) Refusal to Accept Personal Responsibility for Their Behavior: Individuals with a Personality Disorder almost never accept personal responsibility for their behavior. They blame others, uses excuses, claim misunderstandings, and then depict themselves as the victim in the situation. Those that are physically abusive actually blame the victims of their abuse for the assault. Victims often hear “This is your fault! Why did you make me angry?” This aspect of a Personality Disorder is very damaging when the Personality Disorder is a parent. They blame the children for their abusive, neglectful, or dysfunctional behavior. Children are told they are responsible for the temper tantrums, alcohol/substance abuse, unemployment, poverty, unhappiness, etc. of their parent. During a divorce, a Personality Disorder parent often blames the children.

3) Self-Justification: Individuals with a Personality Disorder don’t think, reason, feel, and behave normally. However, they typically justify ALL of their behaviors. Their justification often comes from their view that they have been victims of society or others and are therefore justified in their manipulative, controlling, criminal or abusive behaviors. A common justification in criminals is to blame the victim for the crime as when hearing “It’s his fault (the victim) that he got shot. He should have given me the money faster.” Healthy adults find it impossible to reason with a Personality Disorder, finding their justifications impossible to understand.

4) Entitlement: Individuals with a Personality Disorder have a tremendous sense of entitlement, a sense that they deserve respect, money, fame, power, authority, attention, etc. Some feel they are entitled to be the center of attention and when that doesn’t happen, they are entitled to create a scene or uproar to gain that attention. Entitlement also creates a justification to punish others in the Personality Disorder. If you violate one of their rules or demands, they feel entitled to punish you in some way.

5) Shallow Emotions: Healthy people are always amazed and astonished that a person with a Personality Disorder can quickly detach from a partner, move on, and exhibit very little in the way of remorse or distress. A Personality Disorder can find another partner following a breakup, often within days. These same individuals can also quickly detach from their family and children. They can become angry with their parents and not contact them for years. A Personality Disorder can abandon their children while blaming the spouse/partner for their lack of support and interest. Their ability to behave in this manner is related to their “Shallow Emotions”. The best way to think of Shallow Emotions is to have a great $300.00 automobile (192 euros). You have a limited investment in the automobile and when it’s running great you have no complaints. You take the effort to maintain maintenance on the vehicle as long as the costs are low. If it develops costly mechanical difficulties, it’s cheaper to dispose of it and get another $300.00 automobile that will run well. Also, if you move a large distance, you leave it behind because it’s more costly to transport it. A Personality Disorder has shallow emotions and often views those around them as $300.00 autos. Their emotional investment in others is minimal. If their partner is too troublesome, they quickly move on. If parents criticize their behavior, they end their relationship with them…until they need something.

6) Situational Morality: A Personality Disorder takes pride in being able to “do what I gotta do” to have their demands/needs met. They have few personal or social boundaries and in the severe cases, do not feel bound by laws of the land and quickly engage in criminal activity if needed. The motto of a Personality Disorder is “the end justifies the means”. Situational morality creates rather extreme behaviors and many Personality Disorders have no hesitation to harm themselves or others to meet their needs. Activities often seen as manipulative are tools of the trade for a Personality Disorder and include lying, dishonesty, conning behavior, intimidation, scheming, and acting. Many Personality Disorders are “social chameleons” and after evaluating a potential victim/partner, alter their presentation to be the most effective. Severe Personality Disorders have no hesitation about self-injury and will cut themselves, overdose, threaten suicide, or otherwise injure themselves with the goal of retaining their partner using guilt and obligation.

7) Narcissism and Ineffective Lives: A Personality Disorder has a strong influence on the life and lifestyle of the individual. Cluster B personality disorders often have two lives – their “real life” and the imaginary life they present to others that is full of excuses, half-truths, deceptions, cons, lies, fantasies, and stories prepared for a specific purpose. Physical abusers who were forcibly and legal removed from their children and spouse develop a story that the in-laws conspired with the police to separate them from the children they love so deeply. Jail time is often reinterpreted as “I took the blame for my friend so he could continue to work and support his family”. A major finding in a Personality Disorder is an ineffective life – reports of tremendous talent and potential but very little in the way of social or occupational success. It’s a life of excuses and deceptions. Narcissistic and Antisocial “losers” often promise romantic cruises that never take place or have a reason that their partner needs to place an automobile in his/her name. Their lives are often accompanied by financial irresponsibility, chronic unemployment, legal difficulties, and unstable living situations in the community. Their behavior often emotionally exhausts those around them – something the Personality Disorder explains with “My family and I have had a falling out.” We can be assured that no matter what “real life” situation is present in the life of the Personality Disorder, there will be a justification and excuse for it.

8) Social Disruption: There is never a calm, peaceful, and stable relationship with a Cluster B Personality Disorder! Their need to be the center of attention and control those around them assures a near-constant state of drama, turmoil, discord, and distress. An individual with a Personality Disorder creates drama and turmoil in almost every social situation. Holidays, family reunions, outings in the community, travel, and even grocery shopping are often turned into a social nightmare. The Personality Disorder also creates disruption in their family system. They are the focus of feuds, grudges, bad feelings, jealousy, and turmoil. If you have a member of your family that you hate to see arrive at a family reunion or holiday dinner – he or she probably has a Personality Disorder.

9) Manipulation As A Way of Life: To obtain our daily personal, social, and emotional needs a healthy individual has a variety of strategies to use including taking personal action, politely asking someone, making deals, being honest, etc. Healthy individuals also use manipulation as one of many social skills – buying someone a gift to cheer them up, making comments and giving hints that something in desired, etc. For the Personality Disorder, despite the many social strategies available, manipulation is their preferred method of obtaining their wants and needs. The manipulations of a Personality Disorder - when combined with shallow emotions, entitlement, and being self-centered – can be extreme. To obtain their goals, an Antisocial Personality may physically threaten, harass, intimidate, and assault those around them. Histrionic Personalities may create dramatic situations, threaten self-harm, or create social embarrassment. Narcissistic Personalities may send police and an ambulance to your home if you don’t answer their phone calls, using the excuse that they were concerned about you. Their real goal is to assure you that their phone calls MUST be answered or you will pay the consequences. Borderline Personalities may self-injure in your physical presence. In a relationship with a Personality Disorder we are constantly faced with a collection of schemes, situations, manipulations, and interactions that have a hidden agenda…their agenda.

10) The Talk and Behavior Gap: We know how people are by two samples of their personality – their talk and their behavior. A person who is honest has talk/conversation/promises that match their behavior almost 100%. If he/she borrows money and tells you they will repay you Friday, and then pays you Friday, you have an honest person. When we observe these matches frequently, then we can give more trust to that individual in the future. The wider the gap between what a person says/promises and what they do – the more they are considered dishonest, unreliable, irresponsible, etc. Due to the shallow emotions and situational morality often found in a Personality Disorder, the gap between talk and behavior can be very wide. A Personality Disorder can often assure their spouse that they love them while having an extramarital affair, borrow money with no intention of paying it back, promise anything with no intention of fulfilling that promise, and assure you of their friendship while spreading nasty rumors about you. A rule: Judge a person by their behavior more than their talk or promises.

11) Dysfunctional Parents: Individuals with a Personality Disorder are frequently parents. However, they are frequently dysfunctional parents. Personality Disorder parents often see their children as a burden to their personal goals, are often jealous of the attention their children receive, often feel competitive with their older children, and often attempt to obtain their personal goals through their children. Personality Disorder parents control their children through manipulation with little concern for how their parenting behavior will later influence the lives or the personality of the child. Personality Disorder parents are often hypercritical, leaving the child with the feeling that they are incompetent or unworthy. In extreme cases, Antisocial parents criminally neglect, abuse, or exploit their children – often teaching them to become criminals. Criminal parents often use their children to steal or carry drugs to avoid criminal charges as an adult, allowing the children to face the legal charges. Spouses with a Personality Disorder are often jealous of the attention their partner provides to children in the home, frequently targeting the child for verbal abuse in their jealousy. The narcissism and shallow emotions in a Personality Disorder parent leave the children feeling unloved, unwanted, unworthy, and unappreciated.

Unconscious or Calculated Behavior?

When we look at the emotions, attitudes and behaviors of an individual with a Personality Disorder we eventually begin to question: Are these characteristics calculated and purposeful or are they unconscious behaviors that are not under their control? In working with Personality Disorders, we see both. For example:

1) Attitudes: The majority of the attitudes we seen in Personality Disorders are very long-standing and have been present since their teen years. Blaming others is a classic personality disorder feature and after believing this for many years, people with a Personality Disorder may not truly feel they are responsible for their behavior – even their criminal behavior. They have rethought, reworked, and excused their behaviors to the point that they fail to see that they are the common denominator in all their difficulties. Convicted criminals, with crimes ranging from auto theft to homicide, all have a similar attitude – “Incarceration is unfair”. They don’t factor victims into their crimes in any way. For this reason, those with a Personality Disorder have very little understanding and insight into their attitudes that ruin relationships. Victims will assure you that trying to explain a normal, healthy position to an individual with a Personality Disorder is almost impossible.

2) Impaired Relationships: In a Personality Disorder, over many years the individual develops impaired ways of relating to others. These impaired ways of relating eventually become their only way of relating to others. Beginning in their childhood, as an adult they now only know how to relate to others with intimidation, threat, anger, manipulation, and dishonesty. This defective social style continues, even when those around them are socially skilled, concerned, accepting, and loving.

3) Situational Behavior: Justifying their behavior with these long-standing attitudes, individuals with a Personality Disorder can be very calculated, purposeful, and manipulative in their behavior toward others. Their decision making, coping strategies, and manipulations are often well-planned to meet their agenda. Financially, many will purposefully legally obligate you to pay for their debts. They may steal money from you, justifying that behavior with “I cut the grass for three years – I deserve it.” It is this combination of long-standing attitudes and calculated behavior that makes a Personality Disorder dangerous in any interpersonal relationship.

What Does This Mean For The Victims?

In a relationship with a Personality Disorder, several basic truths are present: These include:

1. The victim in a relationship with a Personality Disorder did not create the Personality Disorder. Many Personality Disorders blame the victim for their assaults, lies, bad behavior, deceptions, intimidations, etc. In truth, the Personality Disorder has those behaviors if the victim is present or absent. Victims don’t cause themselves to be assaulted – they are involved with an abusive and assaultive individual.

2. Changing the behavior of the victim does not change the behavior of the Personality Disorder. Many victims become superstitious and feel that they can control the behavior of the Personality Disorder in their life by changing their behavior. This is often a temporary fix, meaning only that you are now meeting the demands of the Personality Disorder. When the Personality Disorder feels justified, they return to their behavior with no concern for changes in the behavior of the victim. Loving sharks doesn’t protect us if we find ourselves dripping blood in a shark tank.

3. A Personality Disorder is a permanent, long-standing pattern. Time doesn’t change these personalities. If your mother or father had a personality disorder in your childhood, returning home after twenty years will find their old behavior alive and well.

4. Marrying, having a baby with, moving in with, etc. actually makes their dysfunctional behavior worse. The presence of stress exaggerates and amplifies our normal personality characteristics. Mentally healthy yet shy individuals become shyer under stress. The stress of additional responsibilities actually increases the bad behavior of a Personality Disorder.

5. When involved in any manner with a Personality Disorder – as their partner, parent, child, sibling, friend, etc. – we must not only recognize their behaviors but develop a strategy to protect ourselves. Many of our strategies must focus on protecting our emotional stability, our finances, and our other relationships. As a parent, if our adult son or daughter has a Personality Disorder, we must protect ourselves from their behaviors that might jeopardize our lifestyle and life. As the child of a parent with a Personality Disorder, we must often protect our immediate family and children from the bad behavior of our parent. It’s important to remember that with a Personality Disorder – THEIR survival and well-being is their priority – not the health or well-being of those around them.

Summary

As we go through life, we encounter a variety of individuals. We also develop a variety of relationships with others including family members, neighbors, fellow workers, friends, and familiar faces. Healthy relationships seem to be healthy in the same way – having characteristics of respect, concern for others, affection, cooperation, honesty, mutual goals, etc. A relationship with a Personality Disorder is totally different. That 9 or 10 percent of adults with a “Cluster B” Personality Disorder can create significant difficulties in our life. In brief contacts they are often troublesome - the uncle who is a con artist or the sister-in-law that nobody can tolerate at holiday dinners. When we bring them into our lives however, a Personality Disorder rapidly takes over and our life becomes centered on their needs, demands, and goals. To achieve their self-centered objectives, the Personality Disorder becomes the controller, abuser, manipulator and user in relationships. The early identification of individuals who create unhealthy relationships can save us from years of heartache as well as damage to our personality, self-esteem, finances, and lifestyle.

Specific techniques used by individuals with a Cluster B Personality Disorder can be found in another article entitled “Identifying Losers in Relationships”. I have also addressed the issues associated with remaining in an abusive or dysfunctional relationship in an article entitled “Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser”. Both articles are available on my website at www.drjoecarver.com or at www.counsellingresource.com

Joseph M Carver, Ph.D.
Psychologist

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER


NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER


by: Dr. Maria Hsia Chang, Professor, Political Science, University of Nevada, Reno


In psychology, personality disorders refer to individual traits that reflect ingrained,
inflexible, and maladaptive patterns of behavior that cause discomfort and impair a
person’s ability to function--including her relations with friends and family. At least ten distinct personality disorders have been identified, one of which is the narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) that the American Psychological Association (APA) classifies as a “cluster B” disorder. NPD is a highly complex psychological-behavioral syndrome that confounds and baffles those close to the afflicted. Once understood, however, one achieves clarity of vision. Socio-biologists maintain that narcissism is natural for both individuals and groups because self-love is an instinctive, natural-selection trait. That is why all children are narcissists. As individuals mature into adulthood, however, they become less narcissistic because their insecurity tends to diminish as a result of concrete achievements and successes. A certain degree of healthy self-love nevertheless continues into adulthood. It is when narcissism in adults is excessive that psychologists consider it to be a sign of immaturity or worse, a pathology--that of narcissistic personality disorder.

Although the phenomenon of excessive narcissism is as old as humanity, the formal
diagnosis of NPD was made by the APA only as recently as 1990. The following list of traits comes from the APA’s Diagnostic Statistical Manual IV:

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by 5 or more of the following:

• Has a grandiose sense of self-importance.

• Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.

• Believes that she is “special” & unique & can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions.

• Requires excessive admiration.

• Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with her expectations.

• Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve her own ends.

• Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings & needs of others.

• Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of her.

• Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

In addition to the above, I’ve compiled the following, after having read, assimilated, and synthesized a great deal of the literature on this subject. Instead of the typical approach taken by the psychological literature on NPD--which describes the disorder as a syndrome of various attributes--what I attempt to do here is to uncover the central logic that accounts for the syndrome. In the following description of the NPD syndrome, I use the pronoun “she” to refer to the narcissist, for the sake of avoiding the cumbersome “he/she” and “ his/her.” The psychological literature, however, claims that male NPDs outnumber females. The literature also claims that the incidence of NPD is relatively rare, afflicting an estimated 1% of the population. Both of these claims, however, are not verified by my own personal experiences. The problem, as the psychological literature itself admits, is that the very nature of NPD prevents narcissists from admitting they have a problem and to seek professional help. As psychiatrist M. Scott Peck explains: “To receive treatment one must want it, at least on some level. And to want it one must consider oneself to be in need of it. One must, at least on some level, acknowledge his or her imperfection.”i

The few narcissists who do seek therapy, do so when their narcissism has led to a major life crisis, such as divorce, drug addiction, unemployment, and imprisonment. Even when NPDs seek counseling, they typically do not complete the course of psychotherapy. Instead, when the therapist confronts them with their pathological narcissism, the NPD would simply abandon treatment and flee. Given this, I have every reason to conclude that the statistics claimed in the literature are suspect. The simple truth, I believe, is that psychologists don’t really know how many NPDs there are in the population, nor do they really know that male NPDs outnumber females.


The NPD Syndrome

At the core of the NPD syndrome is the construction of a false self as a way to cope with the external world by compensating for the individual’s feelings of insecurity and uncertainty of identity.. Like its namesake, the mythic Narcissus who is in love with his reflection in water, the self that the narcissist loves is not her real self, but a false self that is grandiose, perfect, and superior. The particular basis of the grandiosity is what the narcissist loves herself for. That varies according to the individual, and may be physical beauty, intellect, talent, power, etc. As a consequence, psychologists divide narcissists into two types: the somatic and the cerebral. The former are those whose narcissism is focused on their bodies; the latter are those who have a grandiose conception that they have a superior intellect. I would add a third type: the spiritual narcissist. These are those who ooze with false piety, having a false conception of themselves as supremely virtuous. Regardless of the particular basis of grandiosity, the narcissist strives to maintain and protect that false self at all costs. In effect, the grandiose false self acts like the enter of a wheel, to which are affixed the spokes. The latter are the syndromatic attributes of NPD, which function to protect and maintain the grandiose false self. The constellation of attributes is not accidental because there is a functional reason for the various attributes. This is the underlying logic that accounts for the syndrome. Together with the APA’s DSM IV criteria, those “spokes” may constitute a particularly malignant form of narcissism. They include the following attributes:

• Using people—even supposed loved ones—as tools of self-aggrandisement to affirm and maintain the false self. The narcissist is hollow inside and derives her sense-of self from seeing her reflection in the eyes of others. The psychological literature calls this “mirroring”: the narcissist mainly uses other people as a mirror to reflect her grandiose self-conception. Like a vampire who must feed on others’ blood in order to live, the narcissist feeds on other people’s love, approval, admiration, and compliments. Once the source is sucked dry, the narcissist no longer has use of that person and will abruptly and mercilessly cast him/her aside.

• To lure people into her web, the successful narcissist puts on an attractive social mask. She can be charming, gracious, socially adept, even obsequious. She must also be a consummate actor, skilled at simulating the whole range of human emotions, especially those of love, compassion, and kindness. The more successful she is at simulation, the greater her circle of friends and acquaintances who function as her primary and secondary feeding sources.

• More than to lure people into her web, the narcissist’s charming social mask also conceals the false self from scrutiny. Concealment requires secrecy, evasion, dishonesty, and lying. In effect, the narcissist is a consummate pathological liar, i.e., she habitually lies, even about seemingly trivial, inconsequential matters.

• Using other people as her “bloodbank” requires that the narcissist be a human emotional radar. The successful narcissist is psychologically astute and shrewd so that she can “size up” everyone she encounters for their potential to be her blooddonor.

• Cynically using other people also requires that the narcissist be lacking in empathy.

Do not be fooled by her simulations at empathy. A good experiment is for you to withhold your approval and compliments. You will discover that, overnight, the narcissist has lost her kindness and even simple civility.

• The maintenance and protection of the false self also requires the narcissist to be constantly vigilant against being “attacked” by others. This is why the narcissist overreacts with rage and humiliation to any perceived criticism, no matter how minor or trivial the perceived criticism.

• As the saying goes, “the best defense is offense.” More than reacting with rage to criticisms, the narcissist attacks the critic. This is called scapegoating--projecting one’s own faults (what Carl Jung called our “shadow”) onto another person, and blaming the other for the narcissist’s own inadequacies. The narcissist is very skilled at this.

• The false self must be impervious, which requires the narcissist to resist self examination and introspection. Doing so would open the narcissist to reality-based assessment--a dangerous undertaking because the false self is, by definition, unreal. As a consequence, instead of the insecurities of normal human beings, the narcissist exhibits an impassive and uncritical acceptance of herself.

• The inability or unwillingness to be introspective, in turn, results in cognitive dissonance, cognitive gaps, and non sequiturs. Trying to engage a narcissist in serious dialogue--especially about herself or her beliefs and values--can be a disconcerting experience because nothing she says makes sense.

• Since the false self is superior and grandiose, it needs no one. The narcissist dreads becoming dependent on others, but asserts and clings to an exaggerated independence. Since her love of herself is all-consuming, she is incapable of love and emotional commitments to other people. This is why the narcissist reacts to sincere declarations of love (verbal or in the form of behavior, such as significant gifts) by emotionally distancing herself and, in some cases, outright abandonment--because she is unable to reciprocate that commitment.

• In effect, the narcissist’s grandiose self-conception makes her a god unto herself. Gods are not subject to the morality that governs lesser beings--“rules don’t apply to me.” The narcissist refuses to subscribe to society’s moral rules and ethical standards. Instead, morality is subjective: “Nobody can judge me.” One NPD I know exhibited this trait when she blithely received the Holy Eucharist (believed by Catholics to be the actual body of Christ) in Mass--although she is not Catholic! Another NPD, a former student of mine, responded with rage to my critique of his essay-exam, which garnered a respectable “B” grade, insisting that he was not subject to the grammatical rules of the English language.

• Lacking an abstract universal system of moral codes--and being cognitively impaired-the narcissist lives in a world of feelings and sensations: “What’s good is that which makes me feel good.” Narcissists tend to wallow in cheap “feel good” sentiments.

• Since the false self is grandiose and perfect, relationship problems are never the fault of the narcissist. She blames everyone, but herself.

• This also means that narcissists do not ever apologize or admit that they are wrong or at fault. Instead, they will always subtly, if not blatantly, turn things around to blame you.

• All of this means that narcissists do not, as a rule, seek therapy. In the few cases that do, it is because their problems have become so serious that they cannot be ignored (e.g., divorce, drug abuse, job loss, imprisonment). Even then, the narcissist resists therapy and is likely to blame the therapist (scapegoating!) and flee from treatment.

How to Deal With a Narcissist

• The first rule is: Give up on your fantasy that you have an authentic relationship with the narcissist. Sadly, the person you think you love/like never existed.

• The second rule is: Don’t be a bloodbank for the narcissist.

• The third rule is: Be emotionally detached.

• The fourth rule is: If you must interact with her, challenge the narcissist’s false conceptions of herself by insisting on reality-based assessment. Doing so, however, is guaranteed to alienate you from the narcissist--which is a good thing because the narcissist is incapable of genuine friendship and love. In the last analysis, you are better off without the narcissist.

• If, unfortunately, you must have her in your life because your survival depends on her, as in the case of a child needing the narcissistic mother’s care, the way to get along with her is to feed her fantasies by lavishing compliments on her, i.e., by letting yourself be her bloodbank.

Why Pathological Narcissism is a Spiritual Disorder

A fifth-century theologian who called himself Dionysius the Aereopagite once wrote in The Divine Names that, “The denial of the true Self is a declension from Truth.”ii In the last analysis, in constructing and clinging to their false selves, the entire persona of the NPD is a big lie. That being so, I have come to believe that NPD is not a psychological disorder at all, but a moral and spiritual disorder. Allow me to explain.

An intrinsic attribute of the NPD syndrome is deception--of oneself and of others--in the service of maintaining the grandiose false self. Philosopher René Descartes wrote that “willful deception evinces maliciousness and weakness.”iii A person does not deceive without thinking about and willing it. One does not lie unless one intends to hide the truth, which means that one knows that one is being deceptive. Nor can the NPD put together and maintain the elaborate and intricate NPD syndrome of attributes (e.g., using others for self-aggrandisement, attractive social mask, secrecy, evasion, lying, scapegoating, etc.) without conscious effort. Psychologists say that, in their quiet moments, NPDs know that they are not really as grandiose as they pretend.iv When NPDs cynically use others to “feed” their false self, they know it. When they overreact to perceived criticisms, they know what the truth is. When they lie to conceal their inadequacies, they have chosen to deceive. When they scapegoat others, they do so with deliberation. And when they refuse to apologize, they know they are in the wrong. All of which means that free will is fully engaged in this so-called “disorder.” In effect, the NPD is more than a mental sickness. Pathological narcissism is not some noxious virus or bacteria that overtakes a person. Whatever the early childhood experiences, free will is still operative here. Rather, NPD is a moral disorder, because it is immoral to lie and to use, exploit, blame, and hurt others. More than immoral, NPD is, at its foundation, a spiritual blight. Since the false self of the narcissist is extremely grandiose, she excludes herself from the moral norms that govern “lesser” beings: “rules don’t apply to me.” That makes NPDs their own gods. In so doing, they are in denial of the fundamentally flawed nature of all human beings. The malignant narcissist is more than immoral, she is evil. In his book, People of the Lie, Peck proposed to the psychological profession a new diagnostic category of the “evil personality disorder” (EPD) as a sub-type of NPD. As he put it, “The evil are ‘the people of the lie,’ deceiving others as they also build layer upon layer of self-deception.” And when the narcissist intentionally hurts another, she has crossed the line from being an NPD to being an EPD. In Peck’s words, “evil individuals will flee self-examination and guilt by blaming and attempting to destroy whatever or whoever highlights their deficiencies.”v

Except for atheists (who must be very grandiose because they claim to know a negative, i.e., that God does not exist),vi all of us--the religious as well as agnostics--believe in the existence of some supreme moral being or force in the universe. Recognizing that, most of us harken to these words of Descartes: “I have been so constituted as to be some kind of middle ground between God and nothing . . . . [A]s I am not the supreme being, I lack quite a few things.”vii Dionysius the Areopagite concluded that being self-centered is “inherently wrong” because we have “no right to be the centre of things” as only God is the rightful center of all things.viii

Not only is vanity and pride the first of the Seven Deadly Sins, I believe that narcissism is the root of all evil. Decrying the ills that he saw rampant in modern society--the relativization of all moral norms and the reduction of life to the immediate pursuit of material gain without regard to its general consequences--VaÇlav Havel observed that “Given its fatal incorrigibility, humanity will have to go through many more Rwandas and Chernobyls before it understands how unbelievably short-sighted a human being can be who has forgotten that he is not God.” It is the misdiagnosis of pathological narcissism as a “personality disorder” instead of a moral-spiritual condition which accounts for psychiatrists’ characterization of it as “one of the most . . . difficult-to-treat conditions in the lexicon of mental illness.”ix


Copyright® 2002. Last updated: January 3, 2004.